Pattern Mixing: Make My Day

Pattern Mixing: Make My Day

This outfit is brought to you by a happy, undercaffienated accident. 

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Shalom Y'All

Have you ever met any of your fellow fashion bloggers "IRL" - in real life? I hadn't, until last week.

When it comes to going to new places and meeting new people I'm not always entirely comfortable. It's difficult to be spontaneous in exploring little shops and boutiques if I don't know about their wheelchair access beforehand. It's not fair for me to expect my Mr to maneuver a chair over steps or into impassably narrow shop isles. Then there's the fact that most of my real-life conversations are with my dogs who aren't likely to tell me if I'm being too honest or socially inappropriate. I don't want to come off like Martha Stewart, but I don't want to be a pill, either.

Megan of Megan Mae Daily and I have been planning, and failing, to meet IRL for several months now. Megan recently began working part-time at The Flip Flop Consignment Shop and this past Saturday she invited me to a special event.

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The shop hosted a benefit for the Gallatin Shalom Zone and "Dress For Success." The Gallatin Shalom Zone is a non-profit organization that "works to transform negative forces within the community, focusing on spiritual renewal, economic development, race relations, health and healing". "Dress For Success" educates teens on career choices and gives them the ability to dress appropriately for job interviews. To that end the shop has relegated an entire rack of clothing for the cause, which are also for sale to the public, with all proceeds going to The Shalom Zone.

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In addition to the rack Country music vocalist Sarah Darling stopped by to perform a brief acoustic set, sign autographs, and donate several items of clothing to be auctioned off for the cause.

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I didn't really know I would be attending until the last minute so I think I caught Megan by surprise. She's such a warm person and a delicate beauty. She gave me a big hug and seemed very happy I had come. Megan promptly directed me to the appropriate racks for shopping and I purchased a few goodies for next to nothing. Be on the lookout for them in the future.

The afternoon went by too quickly and, even though we couldn't chat for long because Megan was busy working, we found a moment to snap a photo with shop owner Lacey Montgomery.

Lacey, Me, and Megan

I don't think I put my foot in my mouth once during the entire event. Wait; well, who knows? I'm fine with it either way. I had a great time supporting a Middle Tn independent shop and buying secondhand. My hubby and I even had lunch next door at The Baker's Rack and got free cupcakes!

More importantly I got to meet a very special young woman whom I only knew from the 'net and who exceeded all of my expectations. I look forward to getting together with her again when she isn't working and can have a good time doing whatever we want to do.

In other words, shopping.

We Hate You - But We Want Your Clothes

No doubt you're familiar with the Abercrombie & Fitch controversy that has resurfaced just last week. A&F CEO Mike Jeffries comments about the company's exclusion of "fat people" in marketing, merchandising, and employment are actually not new. As far back as 2006 Jeffries defended limiting clothing sizes to no higher than an L and a 10 because, in his words to Salon, “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong."

More recently the company has been sued by its own employees for discriminatory practices and forcing employees to buy A&F clothing. In both instances a settlement was reached. Still pending is a suit brought by Riam Dean, an employee at the London store that was prohibited from working with customers because she has a prosthetic arm. Dean was called on the carpet by her store manager after she was reprimanded for wearing a cardigan - a no-no according to the company's "visual team" - and relegated to the stockroom.

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Please notice that Abercrombie & Fitch's controversial business plan is ongoing. This really isn't new. It just resurfaces occasionally, garners a few days of outrage, and is forgotten about until the next legal action against their policies makes the news. It doesn't seem to detract from their sales - $157 million in net profits for the last quarter of 2012. That means lots of people are literally buying what they're selling. They have no incentive to change their marketing strategy.

Every time you buy an article of clothing you are making a choice that extends farther than it's fit or fashion. You are supporting a brand, a label, and a storefront along with everything that translates to in philosophy and practices. I don't care of you pay full price in a swanky boutique or half off of yellow tags at Goodwill. Your clothes do more than help you look stylish. They clearly delineate the parameters within which you operate to do so.

What are your "fashion ethics"? Are there companies and labels you won't patronize? Is it because of their marketing tactics, poor customer service, exorbitant prices, or other issues?

Gather Ye Rosebuds

"While ye mayOld Time is still a-flying: And this same flower that smiles to-day To-morrow will be dying."

The first stanza of Robert Herrick's poem "To The Virgins, To Make Much Of Time" tells us to live in the moment. Appreciate what you have while you have it because nothing lasts forever.

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The first red rose to bloom in my garden. I took a picture of it because in a few weeks it will start to wither and eventually die. Just like the backdrop for this week's photos.

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Behind me is what remains of the Bellevue Mall. Years ago, when enclosed malls were all the rage, it was a busy, thriving place of business. Then the stores began to close and were eventually replaced with flea market-like clearance and secondhand booths. About five years ago the property was purchased and plans were approved by the city to turn the area into a "lifestyle shopping area" with an outdoor strip mall, bike path, courtyard park, and restaurants. Then the economy soured, plans were abandoned, and the mall became a dried out, empty husk of its former glory.

This is a very dressed-down day. I'm in errand running mode here so this is my version of "slob".  Rosey red Bandolino jeans, Cable and Gauge black polka-dotted top, and Jessica Simpson bag. The Not Rated Get Shorty black oxfords from Shi are making their inaugural appearance. My rope twist silver and gold bracelet is at least 25 years old but the style is back with a vengeance. The watch is last year's genuine Betty Boop light-up model I picked up for a song.

Even if you're tired, harried and just want to run out the door, get what you need, and hurry home to collapse into your couch you can still look rosier than you feel.

Thanks once again to Patti for hosting all of us divas for Visible Monday and Jill for Monday Mingle.

Goodnight Moon

I'm not referring to the bedtime story.

I'm fed up with ill-fitting, unflattering jeans that are prone to exposing more than I ever intended them to. I don't mind being called "cheeky" but I don't want the nickname to be a literal comment.

You know what I'm talking about. If you have to constantly tug on your jeans because they are migrating South without taking you with them. If you're perpetually shifting in your seat in a desperate attempt to cover your ass; literally. If your pants only feel like they're pulled all the way up when you're sporting a camel toe. If you can't take a full breath without your gut spilling out of your waistband. If the prospect of bending down to pick something up off of the floor is more terrifying than a shower in prison. If you can identify with any of these statements it's time for you to admit that you're no longer the teenager most jeans are built for and marketed towards. It's time to step away from the low-rise, ladies.

For me this has been a long time coming. I thought that some significant weight loss and getting fit would resolve all my denim dilemmas. But the fact is that because I'm in my 50's my body will always be rounder and less toned than when I was 30. When I walk with my crutches I don't want to stop every 20 feet and pull my jeans up, and when I'm wheeling around I don't want to back up so far in my seat that I back out of my britches.

So I went through my closet and donated every girly, junior, low-rise, too tight in the rear, too loose in the gut pair of jeans I owned. That left very few pairs - too few by Nashville standards. At the very least I wanted to acquire a crisp, white pair and a dark wash companion.

A quick trip to the thrift stores was a waste of time. The next step up the clothing chain yielded a white and dark wash, Michael Kors and DKNY respectively. Unfortunately they didn't fit any better than the ones I had just discarded. My last resort was the Opry Mills outlet mall. I had bought jeans from some of the major names like Old Navy and Gap before. I felt confident I could just waltz in and get what I came for.

Wrong.

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The jeans that had served me well were a thing of the past. The styles that worked for me had either been discontinued or redesigned - to sit even lower on the body! Mid-rise or even natural waisted cuts seemed to have disappeared.

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You can't really see it but every Calvin Klein style in the photo above says it sits "below the waist". Now, none of us want to wear the dreaded "Mom jean" but every style I came across barely covered my assets. Okay, I had clearly outgrown the well-known brands. Time to think outside the box.

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I had never shopped at Chico's before. I thought them to be too "old" for my taste and too pricey. But the sign above pulled me into their store, and a trip to their fitting room won me over.

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Finally, denim for grown-ups! No fading, acid-washing, whiskering, or distressing. No body parts suffocated, sausage encased, muffin topped, or mooned over. Just classy jeans in a contemporary cut that fit!

They need to be hemmed, of course, even the "short" length tends to be too long for me. As far as price goes, they were buy one, get one 50% off, which made them comparable to the Gap and several other stores in the mall. I couldn't resist and promptly snatched up a white pair as well.

Goodnight, moon. Go back to the night sky where you belong. Mine will stay stylishly encased in the indigo of my new jeans.

Don't Buy That Yet

If you've been a regular reader of Spashionista Report you know that I love a good bargain and I hardly ever pay retail for anything. Now, it's obvious to any smart shopper that you go for the places, sites, and items that are on sale. But did you know that there are actually optimal months, even days of the week, to buy certain things? No? Well, let me clue you in on a strategy that can save you lots of money. Let me elevate your retail IQ.

• January is filled with post-holiday sales, clearances, and closeouts.

• February is the best time to buy winter shoes, boots, socks and tights. Lingerie is typically on sale as Valentine's Day approaches.

• March is denim discount month. Buy your jeans now. Small electronics like DVD players and iPods see a price drop this month as well. If you need luggage this is the month to pick it up.

• April brings us big spring clothing sales, especially women's and girl's dresses and shoes. Computers can also be had for less this month.

• May sees a resurgence in lingerie sales as well as athletic clothing and shoes. Swinmwear begins to be marked down while inventory is still plentiful. Jewelry is deeply discounted for Mother's Day.

• June heralds in the men's clothing and power tool sales in honor of Father's Day.

• July is a prime month to buy a bag or a swimsuit. Men's shoes go on sale, too.

• August ushers in all the back to school sales - which include sales tax holiday weekends in some states. Coats and cosmetics can also be had on the cheap.

• September sees another big price decrease for jeans. Fall fashions are unveiled at sale prices, and gardening supplies are on clearance this month.

• October is the best time to do some early holiday shopping. The weekend before Halloween typically sees big sales on clothing and computers.

• November marks the cornucopia of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales - which are starting earlier every year. If you're going to take advantage of have a list and a budget with you before you dive in. If you need a sweater this is the month to buy one.

• December brings the lowest toy and children's clothes prices yet along with the usual holiday sales. After Christmas holiday decorations are deeply discounted, as is any inventory that didn't sell by December 25th. The last week of December marks the lowest clothing prices of the year.

Need more help? According to ShopItToMe.com, a San Francisco company that analyzes more than 750,000 sales items a year from more than 200 online retailers:

• Mondays: Shoppers can save nearly 50% on men’s and women’s dress pants, and about 55% on sunglasses.

• Tuesdays: Expect to save more than 40% on men’s apparel.

• Wednesdays: Shoppers save about 40% on shoes and children’s clothes.

• Thursdays: Save 36% on handbags.

• Fridays: Pay 42% less for jewelry, belts and scarves.

• Saturdays: Lingerie (37% off) and jackets/outerwear (51% off).

• Sundays: Swimsuits (52% off).

There is a bit of fluidity in these categories that may vary from region to region within the US, but this should give you a framework to start shopping more strategically and intelligently.

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