The Women Who Inspire Me With Real Fashion. {And I’m Opening a Shop. Or Shoppe if You Want to be Fancy.}

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When MeMe asked me to go through her closet four years ago and tell her what to keep and what to pitch, I said “Sure. That would be fun!”

And then I wanted to die a thousand deaths. How, how was I going to tell this dear, sweet, precious, kind, generous friend of mine that her long, floral, rayon, mid-90s dresses needed to be buried? As did the maternity-esque shirts even though she was not pregnant. And the stack of Mom Jeans.

But MeMe — dear, sweet, precious MeMe — told me in no uncertain terms that she wanted me to be brutally honest, that I was doing her a favor, that she wanted to move into the 21st century now that she was done bearing children {7 to be exact} and trying to reclaim her identity. And so I was honest, hopefully without the brutal. We had the best time that day.

What happened in the coming months was nothing short of a fashion miracle. MeMe started showing up at church and homeschool co-op and art lessons in wedges, modern jeans, funky earrings, and the cutest jackets you ever did see. And people noticed. Namely her husband but also others. People started coming up to me and telling me they loved what I’d done to MeMe’s wardrobe. The truth is, I simply gave her permission. Permission to bury the clothes that had lived a good life and to embrace newer pieces that would reflect who she really is — a beautiful, modern, vibrant, fun-loving woman.

But let’s be clear. Our closet makeover mission that day wasn’t about impressing others or looking like a runway model. Sure, people noticed, but that was never the purpose. I gave MeMe the starter tools but she began choosing a wardrobe that expresses who she is and that works for the real life she’s living day in and day out.

I believe fashion is a practical way to reflect the unique beauty of our true selves. We have to get dressed anyway. Let’s make it fun, expressive, and realistic.

I don’t believe in dressing to wow the world. But I do believe in dressing with dignity and authenticity. Dignity because you are so worth the extra bit of effort. Authenticity because you don’t have to look like everyone else. You’ve got your own unique style, even if you don’t know it yet.

So in the coming weeks and months, I want to give you some real-life tools like I gave MeMe that day.

When I wrote my last post, my personal memoir on fashion complete with adolescent antics, MeMe, who now lives on the other side of the country, sent me the dearest e-mail:

Where would I be today if you had not agreed to help me purge my closet and get rid of those mom pants and shirts / dresses that were a couple of sizes too big for me from my post pregnancy / nursing days and my shirts all of the same style but in their varied colors, which were maybe a little cute years back but no longer? To this day, I still chant to myself:

‘I would rather have a few items in my closet that I love than a closet full of items that I don’t really care for.’

‘Do I pass over this shirt every time when I’m skimming through the rack?’

Thank you, my dear friend, for taking the time years back to go through my closet with me and to give me the courage to purge and try new things.

I cried when I read it.

I don’t share MeMe’s story or kind words because I’m awesome. I share them because maybe you feel a little bit stuck too. There’s hope, no matter what your closet currently looks like.

I didn’t overhaul MeMe’s wardrobe. She did that herself. I simply offered her a cup of courage and she drank from it.

But MeMe unknowingly gave me the same thing in return. She invited me to embrace my true self, a gal who naturally notices things and has a knack for seeing possibility. More than that, she showed me that it’s not a silly, superficial thing to have an eye for outfits. It’s a real gift that makes an actual difference in the lives of those who are gifted in other things…but not so much fashion.

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When Shannan first put together thrifted outfits on her blog over a month ago and sold them to people, it was pretty much my favorite thing anyone had ever done in the history of the internet.

I had trouble falling asleep that night. My mind was spinning with inspiration and ideas. It didn’t help that I’d been shopping that same day and the thrift gods had smiled upon me with silk blouses and gingham J. Crew.

thrift stack

When I was 10 years old and Sandra Day O’Connor was the first female Supreme Court Justice, I remember thinking, I want to do that. I want to be her one day.

And when Shannan inaugurated her “Goodwill Toward Women” — thrifted ensembles for the world to see and buy — I had that same dreamy feeling I experienced at 10 years old. I want to do that. I want to be her one day.

Sandra: Making history and hammering out justice.

Shannan: Selling thrift-store outfits on a blog.

They’re pretty much the same.

A year ago a dear friend of mine, who has the mind of an entrepreneur and the insight of a therapist, told me that I should put together outfits and sell them on my blog. She thought it’d be the perfect fit — my love of style + an eye for buried treasure + my need for a bit of paid part-time work + a lighter side to my more serious writing. And while I thought that sounded super fun in a perfect world, I dismissed the idea for all sorts of reasons.

People would think I was bananas. No one would want sort of thing. It was unmarketable. People would think I was bananas. It was work that would yield nothing.

Enter Shannan. Who is obviously more fearless and optimistic than yours truly. She threw together the cutest ensembles in all of their pattern-mixed glory and what happened? People lined up to the end of the internet to buy them.

So I did what any crazy, stalking, fellow blogger would do. I emailed her and said, You’re my role model and my hero and yada, yada, backstory, yada, and if I muster the courage I would love to do something similar and would that be okay? And also I love you. 

And of course she was fantastic and encouraging and benevolent because that’s just the rad gal that she is.

In the same way that I gave MeMe a cup of courage to dress as the vibrant woman she really is, Shannan’s bold yet vulnerable move to put together outfits from The Goodwill and offer them to the masses, gave me a cup of courage to start dishing about fashion here on the blog. And to consider offering up some fun treats for the masses myself. Or if not the masses, at the least the dozens.

closet sneak peek

A {blurry} sneak peak inside my closet / staging area right now. I affectionately refer to this section as The Boutique.

Besides, one girl can only sell so many thrifted outfits at a time. She did a whopping 15 outfits in her last Thrift Fix and y’all, that is work. But still, there’s a whole lot more than 15 of you out there. How fun would it be to start a resale revolution? Which she already started with her 6-month secondhand challenge.

That gives you a clue about where I’m headed with this “Real Fashion” stuff. I’d love to style some pretty ensembles for you, offer them up at a reasonable price, and ship them right to your door. In fact, I’ve already got them photographed and ready to go.

But I’ve also got a few more goodies up my sleeve. I’m opening up my own little storefront right here through the blog. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a couple of years. Thanks to the encouragement of some dear friends and my husband, I’ve decided to say yes even though I don’t have it all figured out.

The whole thing may fall flat. I could open my virtual doors only to hear crickets chirping.

The shop may just be something I offer seasonally.

I don’t know! {Insert pained expression emoji.} And that’s okay. It will be an experiment in fearlessness and flexibility for my perfectionistic, timid self.

But tomorrow, I’ll have some real stuff. Stuff that you can buy and wear and give. I know, it’s a holiday / travel week and perhaps the worst timing ever but whatevs. The turkeys shouldn’t be the only ones getting dressed up this week.

So spread the word and come back tomorrow for pretty stuff that you can totally afford.

And thank you MeMe and Shannan and the other dear souls who inspire me and cheer me on. {You know who you are.}

Oh and THANK YOU for the super helpful feedback on that last post. I’ve got such fun plans for you all so keep the ideas coming. What are your personal roadblocks to fashion? What would you love to see? How can I help you?

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Comments

  1. Mom says

    Wow, oh wow! I am so immensely proud of you for combining your loves/skills/amazing fashion sense and slapping fear/timidity in the face! You’re going to have such fun, and your readers are going to be blessed!

    And by the way, I actually like the sound of chirping crickets!

    LYF

  2. says

    oooooohhh i looooove the gingham shirt
    i need more gingham in my life
    and a black wool skirt
    and a heather grey wool skirt…
    ok, need is a strong word
    WANT

  3. Renee says

    I LOVE this so much! I’m so excited for how it will all unfold – because I love a nicely styled outfit that I don’t have to work for AND because one persons brave art making on the interwebs can ripple far and wide. (I’ve been contemplating contacting Kendra (who I heard about from Emily Freeman’s blog) because her sugar box idea is so intriguing and fun, I would love (to copy it )and TX needs a box of happy right? Anyhow, your brave step encourages and inspires me!)

    • Marian says

      Girl, let me just tell you something about those pictures. They were a beast. Never. Again. I have to find a more efficient way. {Without going to graphic design school.}

      • says

        This femme fatale $15,000,000.00 propaganda campaign reminds me of something Imelda Marcos or Evita Peron (Madonna) would have pulled.All that's missing for Madonna Clark to take up singing on the radio like the two tin-pot-divas she obviously uses as role models.My big question is just how many shoes and push-up bras does Chesty Clark has in her closet?The GREAT SATAN

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