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!

Late to Breakfast (at Tiffany’s!)

I’ve been late to the party on a lot of movies. I didn’t see “Titanic” until 2006; I didn’t see “Lord of the Rings” until weeks before “Return of the King” came out; I still haven’t seen the complete “Star Wars” series. Since I got my Netflix account a year ago, though, I’ve been trying to fill some of the holes in my “movie education.”

Here at school, every other girl in the dorms has a “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” poster. Two of my three roommates have them! After 2.5 years of looking at her pearls, updo, sunglasses, tiara, giant cigarette and whatever else, I finally decided to check the movie out for myself a few nights ago. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it was very different from what I thought it would be, in a good way. I liked it a lot — I laughed, I got sad, I fell in love with the characters.

And, of course, like every other girl in the dorms, I fell a little bit in love with everything Audrey Hepburn/Holly Golightly wore. The dresses! The coats! The skirts! The jewelry! She always looked beautiful, but she made it look so effortless. I just wanted to steal her entire wardrobe.

The next morning, I woke up feeling completely inspired. I took a cue from a simple outfit from the movie that I couldn’t find a picture of because you only see it for a short time: the day she goes to the library with Paul in that awesome reddish pea coat, she wears a polo tucked into a pencil skirt. I didn’t quite want to go all the way to a pencil skirt for my campus job, but I at least put on a formal skirt.

It’s a shamefully amateur attempt, I know, but it made me smile, and all of my coworkers loved it, too (“What are you dressed up for?” “Oh, nothing, just saw ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ last night!”). I don’t think anyone would look at this outfit and say, “Oh, totally inspired by Audrey Hepburn,” but I think I got the overall concept I took away from admiring how she dressed: You don’t need to wait for a formal occasion to break out your formal skirt, and even a basic day should be an opportunity to dress up a little. If Holly Golightly can dress up to go to the library, I can dress up to go to class.

Remixing: School day to school board

Today was a difficult day to get dressed: I had to sit through a day of classes then attend a local school board meeting on a work assignment, all with an inch or so of snow on the ground and even more in the air. How to go from put-together casual to professional with minimal effort? My solution: A basic top and sweet accessories. Just a plain Forever 21 black turtleneck sweater, with a super pretty, multi-strand, multi-color New York and Company necklace and matching earrings.

The outfits:

For the school day, skinny jeans and my favorite black boots, which are not as waterproof as I would like but still functional.

For the school board meeting, Banana Republic slacks and my favorite black wedges (heels would have worked better with the slacks, but, again, snow). I also swapped the big, colorful earrings for plain studs.

I loved both looks today — neither was complicated, but both looked sharp and pulled together, which is impressive on snow days, when half the campus is in sweats — or, worse, leggings as pants — and rainboots. Cheers.

Not-so-casual Friday

I finally did laundry for the first time in a month, which is alarming on so many levels. How did I accumulate so many items of clothing that I can go a month without washing anything and still have stuff to wear? And how am I fitting everything in my itty-bitty college room?

Most college students take “My clothes are dirty” as an excuse to wear old t-shirts and sweatpants. Given that I have to maintain a semi-professional appearance all the time for my work, though, for me it means more dresses and “nice clothes” than usual. When my casual jeans got too dirty to keep wearing, I went as long as I could wearing dresses and skirts, but Friday I had to pull out my nice jeans, which require heels because I still have not had them altered. Heels on a normal college day! People were judging so hard.

The challenge became finding a top that was casual enough to not look ridiculous on campus but nice enough to wear with heels. So, I went for nice but basic: just a turtleneck sweater in a rich color. I even threw on that snakeskin belt I got for Christmas and had no idea how to wear, which is exciting — now that I’ve worn it with an outfit other than the one the saleswoman put together for me, I might be able to actually wear it on a sort-of-regular basis.

Do you ever think to yourself, “WHERE DID ALL OF THESE CLOTHES COME FROM?” I know it’s totally #firstworldproblems, but really. It’s embarrassing. I’d love some advice on how to execute a closet purge so I can have more space and feel better about myself. Cheers.

Necessity is the mother of… fashion?

Okay, lame title, but I actually said that to a friend today after she complimented my outfit. Pretty much everything I wore today was chosen because I needed to make up for something that wasn’t working.

I wore a dress because my jeans are all dirty. I wore Oxfords because it was supposed to snow and the shoes I first wanted to wear aren’t waterproof. I wore my chain-knit black tights because my argyle ones were missing.

Close-up on my ($5 from Walmart!) "chain-knit" tights

I even wore my glasses today because my eyes decided they’ve worked hard enough this week and weren’t feeling contacts. Today wasn’t perfect — I woke up late (again), couldn’t find half my clothes, meant to belt the dress but ran out of time and couldn’t do anything about the baggy sleeves. And yet, apparently by accident, some things went well. Don’t you love it when that happens? Cheers.

Time machine

I got dressed in a hurry today, just throwing on a cardigan over the first semi-decent shirt I grabbed. At some point in the day, though, I thought about the shirt I was wearing and laughed when I realized it’s one of the oldest shirts I own.

I am not entirely positive, but I’m pretty sure I bought it back in eighth grade, when Hollister was just starting to get popular and everyone wanted to be wearing their clothes. I don’t remember what made me choose it at the time, and I don’t think I wore it much for the first several years I had it, either. It’s grown on me lately, though — it’s simple, but I like the color and the detail around the neckline.

Having the same item of clothing for seven years is not remarkable if you’re an adult buying quality, investment items, but when you’re still wearing a $20 Hollister shirt that you bought at 14 when you’re a few weeks shy of your 21st birthday, it’s amusing.

I only have photos from college on my laptop, so I couldn’t find any really old pictures of this shirt, but I made the even funnier discovery that I actually wore it the day I moved into college as a freshman.

One shirt, two totally different looks. Then: Lace cami, short shorts, flip flops. Now: Cardigan, jeans, wedges. My favorite part? Aside from having grown out my bangs, my hair is pretty much the same. Love it. 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.

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