Do you need someone to bring real hope and possibility to your wardrobe?


Whether I’m writing about our school choices, mothering, decorating, or a great soup recipe, a certain theme always rises to the surface.

Life has to be real and authentic. It has to be accessible. Everything holds the possibility of redemption: marriage, mothering, messy homes, fashion, and even the dailyness of dinner.

It took me over six years of writing in this space to realize that this is what I always write about.

I don’t have the time or energy for perfect anything. I’m forty-one years old and I feel a bit tired on most days. I’d rather take a nap than have a spotless kitchen. I prefer splurging on the perfect macchiato than splurging on the perfect, full-price outfit, gorgeous though it may be. Recipes ripped from the pages of Gourmet are lovely and inspiring but what I really need is daily salvation at the stovetop. That means one-dish meals and a reliance on rotisserie chickens from the grocery store deli.


I’ve still got a thing for loveliness in all its forms. Whether it’s a fresh outfit for spring or a gallery wall I spy on Pinterest, I get weak in the knees over beauty.

gallery wall

I’m a firm believer that we can all have pretty vignettes in our lives, regardless of time, expertise, and budget. Every wardrobe, every home, every dinner, and every family holds the possibility of redemption. It simply takes a bit of vision, prioritization, and inspiration. And I get that not every person is wired to manufacture creative vision.

That’s where I come in.

I hold an honorary doctorate in Possibility and I’ve spent my life curating beauty on a shoestring budget. Thrift store finds and Craigslist rescues comprise most of my furnishings.

liv rm

Discount racks and thrifted pretties comprise most of my wardrobe too.

thrift stack sz 500

Slowly, I’ve introduced a new niche here on the blog, one that’s all about the possibility of real fashion for real women with real budgets. I’ve now had three sales in The Real Pretty Shop and had such fun writing The Real Gal’s Fashion Files, ongoing posts that uncomplicate the art of getting dressed every day. I’m so thankful to those who have encouraged me in these fun and fashion-y endeavors!

Last week I got a text from a friend of mine. She had read my “styling services” blurb on the page about the shop and she simply said this, “I believe this deserves better real estate on your blog.”

I’ve been thinking about it ever since and I think she’s right.

RGSS logo

Do you need a Possibilitarian in your life?

Do you have a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear?

Do you feel like you need a wardrobe update but you’d like to use as much as possible of what you already have?

Do you see things in the stores but have no clue how to make it work for your shape or your budget?

I’m the Wardrobe Whisperer and I’m here to help. And by “here,” I mean local-ish. At least for now.

Spring is right around the corner and it’s the perfect time for clean-outs and updates.

blue and dotty sneek peek

Options include {but are not limited to}:

  • wardrobe consultations
  • closet makeovers
  • personal shopping {whether your jam is the department store or the thrift store}
  • wardrobe updating on a budget
  • how to accessorize
  • how to dress for your shape, style, and stage of life


Email me at marianvischer at gmail dot com if you’re interested and we can discuss details and pricing based on your needs.

If you’re not local but you’d like some help and can think of a practical way I can do that, let me know. I’m all about options and possibilities. And I’m all about putting this out there for you real gals now, even though I don’t have every last possibility hammered out yet.

I plan to keep writing for The Real Gal’s Fashion Files and that’s for all the real gals everywhere, especially as we transition into a new season.

I welcome your ideas for these posts and for The Real Gal’s Styling Services!


Don’t want to miss a post or a sale? You can subscribe by e-mail in the box below. And of course you may unsubscribe at any time. 

How to Dress When You’re In Between Sizes // The Real Gal’s Fashion Files No. 3

RGFF in between header

It’s a common dilemma after the holidays. Or because of babies. Or simply because you’re somewhere between point A and point B on your weight-loss journey and you don’t want an entire wardrobe for each dress size along the way.

You don’t need one.

The trick is to stick with less form-fitting basics and then add in style with awesome accessories and a bit of structure.

Leggings, super-stretchy jeans, comfortable button-ups, drapey cardigans, structure-providing blazers — all of these work as winter wardrobe staples that are super forgiving with size fluctuation. On their own, these pieces and combinations can be boring and redundant. The fun comes when you treat yourself to some affordable accessories or get gutsy with the ones you already have.

Accessories and pops of color are like a magic wand, inviting unexpected awesomeness out of boring black hat.

How do you use this magic? It’s simple: arrows. The Nester says that arrows are the secret weapon in decorating because they direct the attention away from the areas you don’t want highlighted and instead point all the attention to the pretty and the positive. In our homes that means we can camouflage ugly floors by drawing attention to the killer chandelier above the dining table.

But the same principle holds true when we’re getting dressed.

  • Draw attention away from the basic-ness of black leggings and a denim shirt by adding a sparkly, chunky statement necklace or attention-grabbing scarf.
  • Don’t focus on not being able to fit into your favorite jeans. Instead, focus on wearing something forgiving and use colorful flats, a hot-pink blazer, or a chartreuse cardigan as arrows {not to mention pick-me-ups} pointing toward the awesomeness.


Let’s take a look at some examples.

denim w eagle necklace


You can wear a denim shirt + jeans + long cardigan / blazer + statement necklace no matter your age or size. I promise.




A loose tee in a neutral color + black skinnies + tall boots + colorful blazer + printed scarf. Works for all ages, shapes, and sizes. P.S. I love the blog that the above pic came from — My Curves and Curls. Assa is a wife and mom who blogs about plus-size fashion, personal style, hair, beauty, thrift-store shopping and more. A gal after my own heart! I especially love her “Shop What You Got” series.




A drapey pashmina adds instant style and color to a black top + dark jeans + camel booties.


scarf + earrings


Print scarf + statement earrings + the structure of a blazer all serve as arrows, accentuating this gal’s style and personality. Anyone can do this with a pair of boot-cut jeans, a knit top, and a pair of flats or booties.


drapey cardi


Drapey cardigan + dark rinse jeans with stretch + knit top + statement jewelry. This is forgiving and comfortable but still with miles of style. These loose cardigans are trendy and easy to find at all price points.

I measure an item’s versatility by whether my teenage daughter and my mom each have one in their closet. And in this case, they do.

Sweaters like this can go with leggings and every kind of jean. You can layer it over a denim button-up or a loose and comfy tee. And if you add a fun necklace or earrings, well, consider those bonus arrows.


orange coat


Colorful coat + printed scarf add easy, instant style to the most basic of pieces. And now’s the time to score great deals on winter clearance. I have an orange wool coat from Old Navy from a few years ago. I wear it with everything from jeans and Converse to dresses and boots. Coats and scarves are some of the easiest winter accessories one can choose for camouflaging not-so-favorite areas while adding super fun style.


size collage 1 The foundation pieces for each of these fab outfits would be lackluster on their own. But they’re the sort of pieces we all own or could easily find. Comfortable, forgiving, mix and matchable pieces that still allow for structured add-ons like blazers and great boots. AND that are just waiting for some personality and well-placed “arrows” — like hot pink, an on trend cardigan, or even a touch of leopard. {purrrrr….}

fit collage 2

You may be tempted to shy away from colorful layers and statement anything when in between sizes and feeling less than amazing about yourself. Might I suggest you go the opposite direction instead?

  • Pick up the aztec print scarf on winter clearance instead of the play-it-safe gray one.
  • Grab some coral and gold sparkly earrings instead of your go-to conservative ones.
  • Choose a statement necklace for yourself instead of assuming they’re for those who have more style and moxy than you.
  • Treat yourself to cobalt or mustard-colored flats instead of the black ones that go with everything.


Friend, you probably don’t need a new wardrobe. You simply need a new attitude. One that gives you permission to embrace style now instead of when you’ve lost those 20 pounds.

Have any specific questions for dressing when you feel in-between? We can dish in the comments or on the blog’s Facebook page. Any favorite tips and tricks for dressing when you’re in-between sizes? I’d love to hear them!

Want more fashion tips for the real gal? Just go here for all the posts in the Fashion Files.

RGFF 500 button

And thanks to the lovely Richella at Imparting Grace for featuring this post on this week’s Grace at Home link-up!


Never miss a post. You can subscribe via e-mail below. And of course you may unsubscribe at any time.

Two New Ways to Reinvent Your Old Sweaters // The Real Gal’s Fashion Files No. 2

sweater header

Sweaters are the chicken and dumplings of the winter wardrobe, the comfort staples of our closets.

From Fair Isles and chunky knits to cashmere and luxe wraps, there are countless ways for women of all shapes, sizes, and ages to rock the sweater.

But it’s easy to tire of the ones we have. We reach for the same combo each time — sweater + jeans + boots. And if we’re really feeling adventurous, we may layer on a scarf and call that living on the edge.

For the love, let’s thank the sweater for all her faithful years to us by reinventing her just a bit and breathing new life into our well-loved wintry cables.

Here you go, two ways to revive the sweaters you probably already have.

1. Wear it as a “shirt.”

Why should sweaters always be the top layer? Did you ever consider that maybe your sweater is a bit on the shy side and doesn’t want to be so much on display? Fitted sweaters can serve as a cozy, texturey “shirt” under vests and blazers.

sweater + vest

Here I am in Starbucks wearing a chartreuse fitted sweater under my vest. {Let’s pretend this is a quality photo.}

I love this combo and could wear it every day. See how the chartreusey color makes it pop under a neutral vest? The sweater is a bit too fitted to wear on its own {for my personal taste.} But layered under a vest or sweater, it serves as a warm and cozy shirt.

And because I don’t want to break into a sweat or feel too claustrophobic in all of these layers, I just wore a long-sleeve tissue tee under the sweater. This combo is as comfy as fleecey loungewear but a little more appropriate for public spaces.

Let’s look at a few more examples, shall we?

sweater + pink vest


girl + fur vest


sweater + blazer + tie shirt



2. Wear it as a tunic.

Soft, cozy, drapey goodness over anything with lycra and preferably an elastic waistband? Yes please. Especially since it’s the season for Candy Cane Joe’s Joe’s. {Curse you Trader Joe’s.}

tunic sweater + scarf


This ensemble makes our slackness look intentionally chic, relaxed, and modern. The fact that it’s uber-comfy is a bonus. Tis’ the season to make merry, not make ourselves miserable by wearing clothes that punish us. {I’m looking at you zippers and fitted shirts.}

tunic sweater + fur scarf


What’s the key to wearing an oversized sweater without looking, well, oversized? Follow the rule of contrasting proportions. If you’re going loose and drapey up top, go slim on the bottom. Think leggings and skinny jeans. And might I suggest a pair of booties or winter wedges to elongate this look and dress it up a bit?

Here’s what I’m talking about.

long sweater + booties


This would be super cute with flats or riding boots but the heel on the booties make it modern, slimming, and spiffy for date night. {I hear some couples actually get those.}


How to Make These Looks Work For Real Gals With Real Budgets

I know what you’re thinking. “Marian, these looks are all fabulous because they are models.”

I hear you. That’s the thing about putting clothes on long, leggy people all under the age of 27 — they have a way of looking fab in a potato sack.

But I know for certain that real gals like all of us — gals who are 5’1 instead of 5’11, gals who are over 65 instead of 16, gals who are full-figured instead of stick-figured, can wear these looks. {I know because I help them choose outfits from their closets and give them lists of what to shop for.} But I also see them out and about in real life — at the elementary school, church, family gatherings, and my local Target.

Here are a few tips for making these looks work for you:

Tip #1: Work with your proportions and with contrast in mind. {See above comment about that.} Drapey sweater on the top? Go skinny on the bottom. And vice versa. Fitted and tailored on the top? You can go with a more generous fit on the bottom.

Here’s another example of proportions. This petite gal pulled off a long, drapey sweater by adding skinny pants and booties. See how much it elongates?

leggings with booties


Tip #2: Work with your stage of life. That’s a polite way of saying “age.” I doubt my mom will want to wear black skinny jeans and black suede booties. But she could still make this look work for her by wearing dark denim slim-fit jeans with maybe a lower-heeled brown leather bootie. Long sweaters look cute on everyone from my teenage daughter to her Nana. {Hi Mom!}

Tip #3: Work with your budget. I didn’t have any long sweaters but I recently found a “vintage” Adrienne Vitadini number at the thrift store for $3. When my daughter’s friend told me she loved it, I figured I was doing alright. Thrift stores have sweaters galore.

Tip #4: Work with different sizes. If you want to wear a sweater as a “shirt,” you can shop a bit smaller since you’re looking for a fitted piece. The sweater as a shirt number I’m wearing today is a smaller size than I’d choose if I was going to wear it solo. And if you’re wanting a sweater as a tunic, you can shop a bit larger. The one I scored recently is a couple of sizes larger than I’d normally wear. I did a bit of thrifting today and bought a drapey Mossimo sweater in an XL. I’m normally a smaller size but for the look I wanted, this actually worked.

Tip #5: Add pattern to spruce up blah colors. My long Adrienne sweater is a chocolate brown and cream-colored weave. It’s fine but dark brown + denim jeans + gray-ish booties left me feeling sad and colorless. However, once I added a navy and white gingham button-up underneath, it was party time. The contrasting prints broke the sweater of its 90s blah-ness. A patterned or colorful scarf can work the same magic.

See how this lovely gal took her gray sweater from plain to party with a patterned shirt?
sweater + gingham


Remember, these aren’t rules. And this isn’t revolutionary fashion information. These are just simple ideas to get you thinking outside the box, ways to refresh what you already own or find something fun and new for a few dollars.

Now go forth and pull those old sweaters from the back of your closet and see if you can’t reinvent one. Or if you’re like me and need to add a sweatery piece to your wardrobe, go find one at your favorite thrift store for the price of a latte. And then come back and tell me what you scored.


P.S. The last couple of weeks I’ve had real-life friends text, call, and hunt me down at church to show me their blazers. Some were rescued and revived from the backs of closets. Others were scored at thrift stores and given a second chance. You guys! I’m so proud of you. Let me say that you inspire me back with your enthusiasm and quick learning. Keep it up.

Don’t want to miss a post? You can subscribe via e-mail in the box below. And of course you may easily unsubscribe anytime you like.