Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Advice to Miss Angela: Studying Abroad in a Tricky Climate/How To Diversify Your Wardrobe

Last week my friend Angela sent me this:

"I'm leaving in a few months to spend a semester studying in Galway, Ireland and I could not be more excited. I got my rain jacket on Summer clearance from REI and I'm getting new rain boots for Christmas. The only thing that worries me is that they go out four nights a week over there and all I own are jeans and V-neck tee shirts. I never even wear jewelry. I'm just a little college student, and I need to save money for essentials, like food and hard cider, but is there a way I can build up a few basic "cute" looks so that I don't embarrass myself?"

I'm going to attempt to answer this in a helpful way that'll also be useful to others- basically, how to diversify one's outfit for "going out" and for climates like Galway. If you guys didn't know, Ireland is like Seattle if it swallowed a bottle of overcast, rainy steroids. It's not as difficult to dress for as say, the African Congo, but it still poses some challenges.

First off, Angela, you can absolutely diversify your wardrobe on a budget! It just takes patience and good organization. Both will really help you if you end up shopping where recommend: thrift stores.*

*I don't know how most of you feel about thrifting, but in all honesty the majority of my wardrobe has come out of a Goodwill, Value Village, or Salvation Army. If you form a good list of what you'll need and give yourself some time to scour the stores from them I'll guarantee you'll come away with good quality stuff for a LOT cheaper. (Click on the links to find locations!)

The two main guidelines for whatever you buy are this: make sure they're versatile and good for layering. I can guarantee you that in Galway, Ireland and anywhere else during the Winter/Spring months you'll never regret layering (except for maybe if you're in SoCal like me muahaha!). So here goes!

1) Boots
And I'm talkin' leather boots. Or faux-leather. Europeans love they boots, ladiez. Plus they're comfy, warm, and dry during inclement weather. They also will open up your wardrobe: dresses and skirts will suddenly become accessible when you've got some boots to pair them with.

This might be something you want to spend a little extra money on, but you can get a nice, durable pair of boots for a price that won't give you a heart attack. And you'll wear them a LOT, I promise.

2) Accessories
Accessorizing doesn't mean that you have to have 5,000 pairs of earrings or every damn jingly charm necklace from Forever21. It just depends on what you like. Do you like headbands? They're a good way to dress up one of your infamous v-necks, Angie. Here's some accessories I do heartily recommend, however:

a) Tights: if you invest in a few good pairs of tights or leggings (The Nordstrom Rack will have some great ones- if they have some that feel like sweaters, BUY THEM. THEY ARE GOLD) that you'll be able to layer under skirts and dresses. Skip the cheap ones (unless you want to buy some fun colored ones) and spend the ten bucks on a good pair that won't run or be itchy.

b) Belts: belts are super easy to come by and will be invaluable to your wardrobe. It's always great to have some belts in a few different widths, colors, and textures to use to add a little somethin' to your outfit. All of mine came from a thrift store, and my two most used ones are a thick suede-ish black one and a thick braided brown leather one.

c) Scarves: again, easy to find at a thrift store. Find a few in a cool color or pattern to brighten up a raincoat or a bar-going ensemble.

3) Bottoms
Comfy, worn-in jeans are the best. But there are some more stylish, easy options that are just as comfy.

a) Tailored, dark jeans: When you've got a sleek pair of dark-wash jeans you can pull anything off with them. Dark washes are sleek and flattering on everyone. Even better if they're a bootcut/skinny fit so that they can tuck into boots! Jeans are one thing I might recommend not looking for in thrift store unless you have a LOT of patience. Since dark wash jeans are so common, you can find some anywhere- Nordy's Rack (I recently found a pair of dark James Cured skinny jeans there for 30 bucks. For real.), Forever21, Gap... depends on your budget and body type!

b) Skirts: they're wonderful and so easy to find in different styles and colors. If you like fitted bandage/pencil skirts or fuller skirts to wear up higher on your waist, go for a black/grey one and then try to branch out- a bright color maybe, a crazy pattern, or SEQUINS. For winter/gloomy weather I'd advise softer/stretchier knits that you'll be able to feel cozy in. My black knit bandage skirt was $5 at H&M and I can wear it with anything. Boom.

4) Tops
Guess what! Your v-necks will be rocked with the help of accessories and some diverse bottoms! But if you ever find yourself looking at a cute top while at Goodwill or some little boutique, don't be afraid to spend a little extra dough on something unique! While it's great to have versatile pieces in your wardrobe, you also need a good balance of gems that really speak of your personal style.

a) Sweaters! They are the best! Plain cardigans, striped grandpa sweaters, and the list goes on. What do you like?

b) Coats: If you think you'll want a coat other than your rain jacket, leather jackets are sassy and easily found nowadays (and yet again great for layering). Peacoats are a little more classic but are smelly when wet :/

Whew... this is probably a big post of verbal throw-up that I'll probably edit later. Hope this helps!


1 comment:

  1. I love love love you, Berit! So excited to embark on a shopping adventure.


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