Petite Fashion Challenge #13: Stylish for under $100

This month’s Petite Fashion Challenge, hosted by Really Petite (thanks for hosting!), was to put together a professional outfit for under $100, with bonus points if you included shoes and accessories in the price. I managed to meet the challenge, shoes and all!

I’m including two photos, but they’re basically the same outfit. I got these beautiful argyle-knit cardigans from New York & Company several weeks ago, and I’m enjoying trying to figure out how to wear them. I couldn’t decide what looked best here, so I thought I’d include both and ask for opinions. What do you like better? Blue or Yellow? Tucked or untucked?

Outfit Breakdown

Cardigans: New York & Company Pointelle Argyle Pattern Cardigan in Olympic Blue and Yellow (yellow is sold out online now). Originally $49.95 each, but on sale at buy one, get one half off, and I also had a 30 percent off coupon, making each one $26.25.

Skirt: Banana Republic pencil skirt. Found at Goodwill for $5; total cost with alterations about $20.

Tank top: Old Navy Jersey-Stretch Tank in Russian Navy, $10.

Pumps: Payless (old), $20.

Earrings: Cracker Barrel, of all places, approximately $6.

Necklace: Gifted, $0.

Total outfit cost: $82.25.

I had a great time with this challenge. I know I try to shop smart, price-wise, but I never really think about how much an entire outfit costs. Because I’m a college student, most of my clothes are inexpensive, but I guess it all adds up! A fun learning experience. Can’t wait for the next challenge!

How to wear Oxfords? (And a happy ‘first!’)

I’m a shameless complimenter. If I like something a stranger is wearing, I always make a point of saying so. In a restaurant? Sure. Elevator? Why not? Walking across campus? Always. Even if I’m on the phone? Yup.

I’ve been doing it for years, but I’ve never been complimented by a stranger before. Last week, it finally happened! I was walking across our campus quad, and a girl broke off her phone conversation to tell me she liked my outfit. It completely made my day — it was nice to be on the other end of something I always do.

So, the outfit. I bought a pair of Oxfords a few weeks ago, partially because I needed flat-yet-formal shoes to run around in while reporting but mostly just because I wanted a pair. Unfortunately, I did what I always do: I bought a “trendy” item, then got home and realized I had no idea how to wear it. I turned to the internet for help and came up with the outfit below.

Most of the “How to wear Oxfords” articles I read said to wear them with “feminine clothing,” to balance the menswear feel of the shoes. Doesn’t get any more feminine than a dress, right? I added a floral necklace, too, and tights for warmth. I really liked the end result — it was super comfortable, and I didn’t think it strayed too far from my usual look. I test-drove the outfit while I was home on winter break, hence the “in-my-backyard” photo, and wore it on campus for the first time last week. I’ll definitely wear this again.

Last night, I broke out the Oxfords again for a party. I was really tired of wearing jeans and boots everywhere, but it was too cold and raining for a skirt and bare legs, so I went a little crazy and tried to put together a shorts-and-tights outfit for the first time.

I had to send a picture to my sister before I actually wore this out in public (“Is this an outfit?”),  but she approved, and I was decently happy with it as well. I’d go with a fitted t-shirt in the future — this one was essential to the party’s theme — but the concept works. It was great to wear, too — I felt like I was dressed up enough to be at a party, but it was super comfortable, too.

Do you wear Oxfords? I put these outfits together, but I still mostly have no idea what to do. Let me know how you wear yours! Cheers.

Boots and Skirt and Boots and Skirt and Boots and Skirt…

One of my friends taught me the secret to beat-boxing: Just say “Boots and Cats” over and over. It sounds ridiculous, but I dare you to try it. Go ahead. Try.

So, if Boots and Cats works, Boots and Skirt can work, too, right? I don’t know. Seeing as there’s really not a non-silly way to beat-box, might as well go with it.

Today I did that thing were I got tired of wearing jeans and was determined to wear a skirt, regardless of what the weather did. Lucky for me, it turned out to rain all day. Awesome.

Proof that I took this first thing today: If you look closely, you can totally see my retainer. Awkward.

Wearing white tights on a rainy day was not a good call, but the outfit worked, for the most part. I picked this sweater up on clearance at Target a few months ago, and I love it — it’s super soft, and it’s a great dress-up, dress-down piece. I like wearing it like this for college, but I can see myself someday attempting to wear it with a pair of brown slacks for a job. I really want a light blue collared shirt to wear under it, but the tank works for now.

What do you guys do on days when you just don’t want to wear pants, but the weather isn’t quite cooperating? I have to figure something out — I’m predicting a rainy spring here because we’ve had such a mild winter. Missouri weather is always a challenge. Cheers.

My fall/winter uniform

Fun fact: I spent my first- through eighth-grade years in a uniform. Plaid skirt, polo, the works. I think that’s part of the reason I’m just starting to really think about clothes: I went through grade school wearing the same thing every day, then high school trying to wear something different every day, and now that I’ve figured that out, I can try to actually look decent every day.

But, I’ve come to realize, having a uniform was a pretty handy thing. Life’s always busy, and any day when I have to make one fewer decision is a good day. On days when I don’t feel like thinking too hard about what to wear, I turn to my favorite standby: my American Eagle cable-knit v-neck sweaters.

I don’t remember which one I got first, or when I got it, but these days I have five. The striped one is the newest; the purple one is my favorite. The colors and necklines change a little year to year, but one thing never changes: They’re honestly perfect for every single occasion. I’ve worn them with Chucks to class, with black slacks and heels to work, with skinny jeans and knee high boots for just about everything else. They work with scarves. Short necklaces. Long necklaces. Tank tops. T-shirts. Skirts. Seriously, I can’t get enough of them.

I’m cheating with the outfit photo below, because I’m wearing a Tommy Hilfiger version that I “stole” from my mom, but it’s basically the same thing. How many times have I wore variations on this outfit in the past two weeks? Seeing as only the solid blue one is clean right now, looks like five. I’m sure if you read back on this blog to last winter, you’ll see them several times. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

Sorry for the horrendous Photoshop abuse. Sunshine + snow = death of my camera.

So if I go multiple days without an outfit post, you all can probably safely assume it’s because I’ve fallen into my uniform trap and I’m too embarrassed to admit it 😉 Cheers.

By the Book

Hi everyone! Sorry it’s been a while. I’ve been preoccupied with events including foot injury, friends visiting from out of town and, most importantly, this: a new book by my favorite author.

Look, I even left half my face un-blurred so you can see my joy.

The Fault in Our Stars,” by John Green, came out Tuesday, after much anticipation. I read it in about six hours, and in the final hour I cried no fewer than five times. It’s a sad but beautiful book; a book about teens facing cancer, but also a love story between teens facing cancer, and a book about family, and heroism and courage, and so much more. John’s been my favorite author for about four years now, and he has never disappointed. I strongly encourage you to read this book, or any of his other ones.

I grew up dressing up for Harry Potter release parties, Gryffindor robe and all, so I felt like I needed to dress up for “The Fault in Our Stars.” Lame, right? But there you go. Blue and black and white. If I had planned better, I would have accessorized yellow or gold, too, but this is as far as I went.

Also, I’ve totally dressed to match a John Green book before. His first book, “Looking for Alaska,” is my favorite book, hands down. When I spotted a shirt on American Eagle’s website that reminded me of its cover, I bought it without a moment’s hesitation.

Oh, and if you’ve ever noticed that my toenails are nearly always painted blue? That’s a nod to “Looking for Alaska,” too. The “Alaska” in the title is a character, not the state, and one of the few physical descriptors of her included in the book is of her electric blue toenails. Yes, I’m a nerd, but I’m a proud one. Cheers, and, as John often says, thanks for being awesome.

Dressed-up Plaid

I haven’t outfit-posted in a few days because I’ve been sticking to basic gym-shoe-accommodating things in hopes of getting my somehow-injured foot back in shape. Today I reached the foot-injury stage of, “Well, this is going to hurt no matter what shoes I wear, so I might as well wear shoes I like.” So, back to your regularly scheduled programming.

I bought two button-up plaid shirts at Old Navy last week, and they’re just perfect for winter — warm without being bulky. I’m not sure if they’re flannel or what (the receipt says flannel, but it’s debatable), but they’re great. The shirt’s cheap ($15-ish, depending on the sale you get — I couldn’t find them online, sorry!) and available in about a billion colors, and it fits really well, too! I also appreciate that the sleeves stay rolled up when you roll them, because I typically push my sleeves up to my elbows, anyway.

Yup, we've got saloon doors in my basement. You're jealous.

I’m so hooked on the skirt/tights/boots combo. I skipped my brown boots in favor of gray ones to avoid looking too cowgirl, which was probably a good call, and dressed up the whole thing by keeping my hair and earrings nice. I love this look — you’ll see this again soon. Cheers.

Shirt: Old Navy flannel something? sz XS. Still in stores, but not so much online; similar here. Skirt: Old Navy (old). Tank: Old Navy (old). Tights: Target. Boots: Payless, old, but similar here.

Finally joining the Color Brigade!

One of my favorite fashion blogs is Cute & Little, by Kileen. Kileen is one seriously stylish person — I’m always impressed by the beautiful outfits she puts together! Even her casual days are worlds more sophisticated than my dress-to-impress days. It’s amazing.

Kileen runs the Color Brigade. I’m not sure exactly what the history of it is, but it’s a weekly feature on her blog. Here’s the challenge: Wear an outfit that combines at least 3 colors (patterns count as one color). I always love the outfits, and I’ve been meaning to join in for months. But every week Monday rolls around and something happens — I oversleep, I have to wear something specific for whatever reason, I get lazy and wear something basic. You all have seen my struggles with color.

This week, I was determined to do it! I woke up Monday ready to go… and realized I had woken up late and still needed to finish a homework assignment before getting to work. So. That ended up being a uniform polo day.

But today, today, I finally did it!

Oddly enough, this outfit started with the gold tank top. It was a work day, so I was aiming for black and gold, and I had planned to wear the tank top with a plain black skirt and a black cardigan. But I had my plain black skirt on the same hanger as this tiny-floral patterned one, so I thought I’d switch it up and make it more interesting. Then I spotted this pinkish cardigan next to my black one and guessed it might work with pink flowers in the skirt. I ran it by my roommate, just to make sure I didn’t look dumb, and she approved it. Ta dah! My first Color Brigade outfit.

Close-up on the skirt pattern. I don't know why it's so brown here! It's a black skirt with pink and gold flowers.

I wish I had had the time to put some more effort into this outfit, and to take some better pictures, but it’s not a bad start! Here’s hoping I can pull it off again next week. Cheers.

P.S. — No posts over the weekend because I traveled home and had occasion to make some questionable fashion decisions — I refuse to put effort into looking nice for dentist appointments, because nothing good comes out of dentist visits, and I may or may not have broken out the old letterman jacket while attending an event for my high school. Whoops. But, I managed to throw on an uncharacteristic amount of color for my drive back to school! Look at this. I had a bright green shirt that matched a stripe or two on my beloved Missoni flats, and coordinated with a tank top in another shoe-stripe color. Not a black cardigan in sight, either 🙂 Maybe there’s hope for me after all.

Not even college names on t-shirts can escape the retouching tool of my Internet paranoia.

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