Not Dressed to Impress

By: Jeanne Reynolds

When my husband and I returned from our honeymoon cruise many years ago, our flight landed without a problem in Charleston … but our luggage, alas, did not.

The good news is the airline located it with a day or so. The bad news is it was still in New York City, and apparently had been for some time, going ’round and ’round the luggage belt in one of the busiest airports in the world.

The more good news is no one had stolen it. The more bad news is apparently our stuff was so bad no one wanted it. And these were the “nice” clothes we had packed for a cruise to Bermuda.

Remembering that, I had to laugh (a little, to myself) last weekend when I decided to try the consignment store route for some cocktail dresses I thought just a little too nice for the Every Woman Blog - Not Dressed to Impressthrift store. They’re in excellent condition but I haven’t worn them in years and can use the extra closet space.

With the dresses carefully covered in plastic to protect them from the elements, I entered the consignment shop nearest my home. My first impression was somewhere between a flea market and a garage sale, except less well-organized. I immediately doubted this shop’s clientele would be in the market for sequins and black crepe, but I’d gone this far so I forged on.

Guess what? The proprietress rejected my dresses because they’re too old. Once again, no one wants my stuff.

OK, when I said I haven’t worn them in years, it might be like … 10 years … or more. (I lose track of time these days.) Maybe they’re not the latest style, but they’re beautiful and classic. Surely, I thought, someone would love to snap them up at a great price. Not so much, apparently. Maybe they fall in that no-woman’s land between vintage/retro and just … old.

That little figurative slap in the face caused me to take stock of my closets. It’s easy to see very few of my clothes are new. They fit well (thanks to running, I’ve been the same size for decades) and are comfortable, and I can usually manage an appropriate outfit for any occasion. But no one will ever mistake me for a fashion maven.

And I’m OK with that. One benefit of getting older is you get better at accepting yourself for who you are.

I guess I’m back to the thrift store donation. Kidney Foundation, be on the lookout for a sparkly little number coming your way soon.

I just know someone is going to want it.

Accusation: Trying to be Cute

By: Chaunte McClure

ChaunteI’m looking forward to the dog days of summer ending. Whew! It’s been HOT!

However, I’m not looking forward to a comment I often hear in the winter: “You’re trying to be cute.” (Insert emoji with rolling eyes.)

I’m not much of a hat-wearer, so during the winter, you’ll most likely not see me with my head covered. But it has nothing to do with being cute. I own four hats – a winter hat, a floppy hat, a sun hat, and one that sort of looks like an Ascot cap. Two of the four I’ve never worn although I’ve owned one of them for at least four years. Don’t judge me; I had a vision for it when I bought it. 🙂 I’ll put on one of the others on my day off when I have to run an errand and curling my hair is not an option.

When winter finally arrives in South Carolina, I wear coats, but I don’t like driving in one, especially if I’m also wearing a sweater. I don’t like shopping in coat. It just gets too, uh, uncomfortable. When I get into my car, I usually take my coat off when the car is warm or before I head to my destination. Well, upon arrival, if I’m only going inside a building – let’s say the church on Sunday, or the office – for a few hours, I won’t wear my coat inside. When someone observes that I don’t have on an outer garment as I make my way towards a door, that’s when I hear it. Following a brief lesson on how I should dress for the weather, some variation of trying to be cute follows.

Not that it should matter to anyone, but when it’s cold, I dress in layers. Camisoles, leggings and long-sleeved Tees are my winter must-haves. I’m usually warmer than I look.

At my previous job I parked in a garage and almost never wore my coat just to get on the elevator to head to my office where I kept my portable heater going, sometimes even in the summer. Low and behold, someone, an older woman, noticed me not wearing a coat as I made my way to my office one morning. Guess what she said? (Insert emoji with rolling eyes, again.) I’m sure you’ve guessed it.

I’m not trying to be cute, I just want to be comfortable. Like you, I have personal preferences for decisions I make and actions I take. Why does it have to be about being cute?

Now, often when I’m wearing heels, yes, I’m being cute. Nowadays that’s usually only on Sundays, but comfort trumps cute within an hour or two and I will lower my height by one to two inches and slide into a pair of flats whether they match or not. Ladies, you know what I’m saying. You know you keep a pair of flats in your trunk or on the backseat floorboard. And oh do I suffer when I leave those ballet flats at home.

What do you do that prompts someone to accuse you of trying to be cute?

In case you missed my previous post, be sure to check out Dress to Impress Whom?

Dress to Impress Whom?

By: Chaunte McClure

IMG_2464Do you have friends or associates who are fashion-focused and expect you and others to be also?

I’ll admit, I take a liking to dressing neat and looking cute, but sometimes I miss the mark. I tend to dress according to my mood; therefore, I usually don’t choose what to wear to work the night before. If I’m groggy, sick or for some reason in a bad mood, I really don’t care about looking my best. Some days I just don’t feel like it!

I’ve had coworkers and friends who put too much focus on what they, and others wear. Not everyone wants to wear trendy, high fashion clothes and shoes or carry high-end bags. I’m perfectly okay with wearing clothes from Target versus Belk, Dillard’s, or any couture retailer. My purses don’t have to don Coach, Michael Kors, Kate Spade or Louis Vuitton logos. The $19.99 Wilson’s Leather handbag I bought this spring, which isn’t leather at all, holds my wallet, sunglasses, tablet and cell phone the same way the name brand bags will. And they’ll apply the same pressure to my shoulder and neck. (Ouch!)

The pressure to dress to impress others is stressful and can be hurtful. There are women who would rather save for family vacations or girlfriend getaways than their clothing wardrobe. Others just can’t afford more clothes and shoes.

Early on during my college days, I remember being humiliated because I didn’t have “the best clothes.” I barely had enough to even make it through the week. Boy was I grateful for those free T-shirts when I signed up for credit cards. However, I am still ungrateful for that plastic money.

As a working adult, when I was able to buy my own clothes, I still dealt with women who turned their nose up at me because of how I dressed. I typically dressed professionally even before I began my career. What I wore to work, I wore to church. I didn’t buy many clothes to wear outside of those two places, but that didn’t matter much because I didn’t go many places outside of the two.

We put too much focus on fashion instead of concentrating on finances, family, community, goals, and education – things (I think) that really matter.

I’m not opposed to fashionistas; I’m opposed to those who set a fashion standard for others. I dress to impress me – not my coworkers, friends or spectators and I do it with tact.

Are you fashion focused? Do you expect others to be also?

Thrifting

By: Leah Prescott

For better or worse, I am a thriftaholic. I just can’t help myself. There is something so thrilling about sorting through veritable junk to discover something surprising or unique. Or just incredibly CHEAP. Most of my friends scratch their heads at my shopping habits. But some are curious when they see the irresistible deals I haul home. I try to share the love with my friends, so they often ask me to search for particular items. When I stumble across something specifically on my “in search of” list, I feel like I’ve won the Gold Medal in bargain hunting! (Too bad shopping doesn’t actually tone the body; if it did, I’d be super buff).

Retro Radio Flyer Trike $7.50

Retro Radio Flyer Trike $7.50

My personal strategies for thrifting:

  1. Frequent, quick visits are usually most productive. Occasionally, I will spend an hour sorting through clothes, but in general, my stops are usually 10-15 minutes, tops, when I am out running other errands. I move quickly through the perimeter of the store, hitting the hot spots of interest to me: housewares, toys, shoes, kids’ clothes. I don’t even look at books and adult clothing unless I have time to sort, sift and try on.
  2. Consider locations. Thrift stores operate on donations. Therefore, some of the best items can be found close to wealthier areas of town, even if the location itself may not be considered prime retail space. Though the storefront may not look appealing, the contents could be fantastic, so keep an open mind. While traveling, I once found some high-end children’s shoes and boutique toys at a hole-in-the-wall location. That’s part of the fun!
  3. Know your brands and keep a list. If you know what brands are worthwhile, you will save yourself some time. This is especially true of kids’ clothing. I have expensive taste, with a modest budget, but that’s ok. I have learned to quickly scan through a rack and can typically spot the quality items from cut, texture and sometimes pattern.
  4. Be patient. With my quick stops, I often leave empty handed. But when I do find something awesome, it makes all the other trips worthwhile. Like the time I stumbled across a gorgeous blue Le Creuset Dutch Oven, in pristine shape for $8. I thought I had died and gone to bargain heaven. Even though my next dozen trips to the housewares section might be fruitless, that bargain goes down as one of my best finds to date. So don’t be discouraged, be persistent! Even if this trip is a bust, next time you might have your $8 Le Creuset moment.
Le Creuset dutch oven $8

Le Creuset dutch oven $8

Now, I admit it, I’m tempted to keep some of my tips to myself, but, out of the goodness of my heart, I’m about to share with you my very favorite thrifting spot in the area: Palmetto Thrift on Fernandina Road. I love this store because it’s clean, organized and reasonably priced. The staff is incredibly helpful and friendly, and best of all, they support a wonderful local cause: Children’s Chance, a charity that helps children right here in our area who are suffering from cancer. Even if you aren’t a thrifter, please consider donating to this fantastic organization. They even offer free pickup and, of course, donations are tax deductible!

Vintage Candyland $1.50

Vintage Candyland $1.50

Convinced yet? Need some examples of bargain finds from local thrift stores? Here’s a sampling of my favorite steals: TOMs shoes ($4 each), kids Crocs ($1.50), Le Creuset dutch oven ($8), Hanna Andersson kids clothing (90% or more off retail), vintage housewares, Emu boots, homeschool curriculum, Twinkle Toes, retired American Girl dolls and other items (less than $10 each), vintage My Little Pony toys for pennies, Bunn Coffee Maker, stainless steel kids’ cups for a fraction of retail, Learning Tower (one of my favorite kid items ever), Rody pony, large plastic kids’ toys for a buck or two, wooden Thomas train items, and a surprising amount of matching clothing for my twin girls! Most of my clothing is thrifted as well (brands I couldn’t typically afford like Ann Taylor, Garnet Hill, White House Black Market, NYDJ, Lucky Jeans). And books, oh the books! The abundance and variety of childrens books for pennies will amaze you.

Baby Board Books $.25 each

Baby Board Books $.25 each

So if you run into a mom with twin curly headed girls and a precocious toddler at Palmetto Thrift, be sure to say hello. Just don’t take my vintage Corelle dishes. I will fight you for them.

Meet the New Every Woman Bloggers: Sydney Yarbrough

Sydney Yarbrough, one of our new Every Woman Bloggers, is already an experienced blogger. She loves fashion and design, and even makes her own jewelry. Meet her in this video. 

GWEN RAWLS Italian Shoe Boutique Grand Opening Festivities

By: Staci Rutherford

I first featured GWEN RAWLS Italian Shoe Boutique after attending the soft launch in late August.  If you have not had a chance to visit yet, you’re in luck.  GWEN RAWLS Italian Shoe Boutique will celebrate its grand opening festivities on Friday, November 9 and Saturday, November 10 at Trenholm Plaza, 4840 Forest Drive, Suite 17.  Each day from 10 am to 6 pm, boutique owner Gwen Rawls will welcome guests to view her latest collection of Italian shoes and handbags—couture originals direct from Milan—along with the chance to sample delicious Italian hors d’oeuvres and refreshments, and the chance to win several boutique gift certificates and coastal travel packages.

“I am thrilled with the gracious reception and enormous support we have received in the last two months,” said Rawls.  “Clearly, there was a demand for an upscale boutique in this market and I am so happy to give back to my growing customer base with our exciting Grand Opening celebration.”

After a September trip to Milan to complete her winter product line of fine Italian leather shoes, boots and handbags, the GWEN RAWLS collection now features more than ten designers including Roberto Cavalli, Baldan, Luciano Padoran, Luis Onofre, Gianna Meliani and Mario Zamagna.  “It’s been so much fun introducing Columbia shoppers to the Italian designers I’ve discovered,” said Rawls.  “They are already famous on the runways of Milan and in the pages of fashion magazines like Italian Vogue, but now they are gaining notoriety right here in Columbia.”  Rawls emphasizes that many of the shoes in her collection are made exclusively for the GWEN RAWLS label while others are only sold in Europe—meaning Columbia is the only place in the U.S. to offer many of her styles.

Gwen Rawls invites the women of the Midlands to her boutique to learn about the designers in her collection and to fully understand the old world craftsmanship found in her shoes.  “When you purchase a GWEN RAWLS shoe, you are making a long-term investment in a high-quality, stylish product that will stand the test of time,” said Rawls. “I am honored to bring these styles to the States and to add to the exciting retail metamorphosis that is taking place in our capital city.”

My Name Is Mary Pat, And I Am An Addict

By: Mary-Pat Baldauf

“Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.” ― Marilyn Monroe

I’ve never really been a shoe girl. Give me a few comfortable pairs in basic nude, black or navy, and I was good to go. Until a couple of years ago, my “athletic” shoes were limited to a pair of white Keds, which became a pair of Sauconys once I experienced a heel spur. But now that I’ve embraced exercise, I can’t get enough running shoes, so much so that a friend told me that I should check into “Athletic Shoes Anonymous.”

When I started strength training two years ago, I had one pair of Saucony running shoes, purchased at a discount store because I liked the pink and black accents. They were comfortable shoes and perfect for those “shop ‘til you drop” Saturdays. Once it looked like I was going to be a regular, my trainer suggested I try a pair of the then-new “barefoot” or minimalist shoes for training.

I don’t explain it as well as my trainer, but wearing minimalist shoes provides me with a much more stable “base.” The reduced heel cushioning and sole thickness, along with a minimal offset in height between the forefoot and heel allows me to have more responsiveness through my foot when grounded. This responsiveness helps to keep my knees in proper position on lifts, the back and hips to be more aligned, and in turn allows me to be more efficient with major moves such as squats, deadlifts, lunges and other compound movements.

When it was time to choose new athletic shoes, I started shopping and I never stopped. I should probably be embarrassed to admit that I now have six pairs of athletic shoes, each with their own personality, style and purpose:

  1. First came my Nike Free Trainers, my first entrée into the minimalist shoe category. Light grey with an orange bottom and turquoise accents, these are probably my tamest pair of shoes. They are perfect for strength training and the elliptical, and are probably my best “squat shoes.” But if I’m going to be on the treadmill, I usually pick another pair.
  2. Next came my Reebok RealFlex Trainers, solid neon pink. These shoes make me smile, and pick me up on those mornings that I’d rather stay in bed. The bottom resembles a rubber keyboard, and they are good for everything. These are probably my favorite shoes.
  3. Soon after experiencing the Reebok RealFlex, I also purchased a pair of their running shoes. The attraction was purely physical; they are dark grey with a neon lime bottom and neon pink accents. Although the same size as my other Reeboks, the toe box seems to be just a smidge roomier. I often wear these during “that time of the month” or when my feet feel a little swollen.
  4. On a trip to the Reebok outlet in Myrtle Beach, I purchased a neon yellow and pink RealFlex Optimal Running Shoe. I had to go up a size in these, likely due to a difference in the shoe material, and these don’t fit perfectly. They are perfect elliptical shoes, though, so I wear them most often on cardio days.
  5. That same weekend, I found a great pair of black and purple Nike Flex Trainers at Ross. The price was right, so I figured they would be a nice addition to my closet. I added a fab pair of black and silver shoelaces for the win, and I love them. These shoes have yet to develop a personality; I can’t yet tell you when they perform the best. That leads me to believe they are probably a good all-around shoe for any gym activity, whether it be strength training or cardio.
  6. My latest purchase and the ones I swear will put an end to my athletic shoe addiction? A pair of Asics Noosa running shoes. Actually designed for triathletes, this shoe gives me just a little more stability for the days when I spend an hour on the treadmill. My trainer says they’re also fine for training, though they aren’t my favorites for that purpose. And as nonchalant as I sound, I like them most for their vivid coloring: various shades of neon with glow-in-the-dark heels and toes. Yep, they are hot!

My penchant for athletic shoes has earned me a special nickname at the gym: the Imelda Marcos* of Doctors Wellness Center. But whether you love workout shoes like me or prefer to stick to a single pair, the most important thing is to find the right shoe for you. The color and style are nice extras, but there’s more to it than that. Before you go shopping for your athletic shoes, check out “10 Tips for Choosing Athletic Shoes” from WebMD. Of the ten tips, the one that resonates most with me is to go by what shoe fits, not the size. Sizes vary by brand, sometimes even styles within the same brand, so you always need to try them on.  My regular shoe size is six, but my athletic shoes range from size 6.5 to 7.5.

Happy Shopping!

*For those of you under the age of 40, Imelda Marcos is the former First Lady of the Philippines. When she and her dictator husband were driven out of the country in 1986, she left behind at least 1200 pair of shoes. She was rumored to have over 3000 pair of shoes in her palace closet.