Last night I attended the annual Rubbish to Runway event in Salisbury, Massachusetts and I’m so glad I did. It was a lovely, family-friendly, community event, with little girls, dads, and seniors strutting the runway. The event is a fundraiser for a remarkable organization called Long Way Home.
Long Way Home is dedicated to bringing a more prosperous and sustainable future to the community of San Juan Comalapa, Guatemala where our students can walk a path of civic connection and economic success. We educate in a freethinking, democratically ordered educational system that attends to the whole child. Graduates become self-directed and self-sustaining community members.
It was a challenge to take good photos of the models (for me anyway) on the runway because the room was so dark but I did manage to sneak backstage and get some close-up shots.
I absolutely adored this fabulous young woman and her upcycled gown. She was totally game to make the best of the situation for our impromptu fashion shoot. We walked down the backstage hallway until we came upon this orange ladder. A perfect accent to her gown. Magnifique!
I got to play fashion stylist for the weekend and I loved it! Savers reached out to me to write a blog post using items purchased at Savers. The concept I pitched was of a young woman returning to college for her senior year. My friend, Maya, agreed to be my model. Savers gave us a wardrobe budget of $150.
We planned the outfits in advance.
jeans and a t-shirt for attending classes
an outfit for her work-study job at the library
everyday pieces for late night study sessions
a chic ensemble for art openings or an evening out
a pant suit for presentations and interviews
I found these vintage Lee jeans in the men’s section. I cropped them and washed them to accentuate the fringe. The slides were actually slingbacks but I cut off the straps and turned them into mules. Remember to check the men’s section for plain white t-shirts. These thick cotton boy-cut t-shirts are a nice alternative to the tissue tees that have been popular for too long. The red bag is actually new but the shot needed a pop of color so I included it. It’s a Jelly Retro Basket from Lisa Says Gah. I’m obsessed with it.
The perfect pair of vintage jeans is not easy to find. Be patient. The inventory at Savers turns over quickly. If you don’t find a pair on the first visit, go back again in a month. Trust me.
For a more studious look, pair a silk secretary blouse with a classic wool skirt. We added a vintage watch for a bit of analog bling and a quality trench coat for chilly Fall days. Personally, I am keeping my eyes peeled for a classic belted trench coat so I can pull off this look by Reese Blutstein. Follow Reese on Instagram for great style inspiration.
Turtlenecks and high-waisted pleated pants are a comfortable choice for late night study sessions. Layering is key for transitional seasons and drafty old buildings.
This thin turtleneck sweater dress can be dressed up with simple accessories making it a smart choice for an art opening or an evening out. Funny story — we couldn’t find a handbag that spoke to us so we opted for this basket from the home goods section instead. It’s a fun alternative to a traditional bag. The cowhide slides help make the outfit feel unique and memorable. Judging by Maya’s reaction, I think these slides were her favorite find of the day.
Sculpture: Arcangle, 1984, granite and Carrara marble by Gary Haven Smith located at the University of New Hampshire Dimond Library
We opted for minimalist jewelry. The jewelry selection at Savers is insane. You can achieve just about any jewelry trend with the options they have. I know that sounds very sales-y but it’s true.
We scored a quality Ann Taylor pin stripe suit that fit Maya like a glove. For this shoot, we paired it with a vintage camisole but for an actual interview or presentation I would recommend a classic button down or silk shell top. Death by Elocution has great inspiration for updated classics like that.
Again we opted for slides over pumps. Block heels are easier to walk in and they offer a nice juxtaposition to a traditional suit.
How’d we do? Let us know in the comments.
BEHIND THE SCENES: Maya lives 3 hours away from me. It was a challenge to find the time to shop and shoot together. She arrived on Saturday night at 7 pm. Savers closes at 10 pm. We rushed over and treated the experience like a reality tv show. We split up and loaded up our carts with options. She tried everything on and quickly determined the best pieces. We dove back into the racks to find more pieces. When we went to cash out we discovered that everything we had still only added up to $130. We had to go back in and spend another $20!
The next morning we planned the outfits. There were a few pieces that on second inspection didn’t work well for our shoot. I blame it on us having to rush. I decided to swap out the items that didn’t work with items from my personal wardrobe that I actually did buy at Savers, just not on this trip. We swapped out ankle boots for the slides. We swapped out a big blazer for my vintage Lee jeans, and we swapped out elastic waist pants for the wool skirt.
That was fun! I want to do it all again. I hope the takeaway is that you can get quality pieces secondhand. It’s better on your wallet and on the environment. Next time you feel like your wardrobe needs a refresh — think secondhand first! xo jam
It’s around this time of year that I write my Spring Style Inspiration blog post. Usually, the long winter has me day dreaming about gauzy linens and modern pale pastels. This year is different. This year, all I can think about are pantsuits.
A few days prior to election day I went secondhand shopping for a pantsuit. I wanted to wear one on election day in solidarity with other progressive women. Unfortunately, everything I found was just. not. me. Following election day there were more important things to worry about than a lack of pantsuit options.
For weeks after the election, I was in a fog. It’s still hard to believe what happened. Fortunately, the fog has started to lift. I want to get on with living, loving, working, and laughing. This next stage calls for a new modern pantsuit. I want to feel comfortable, strong, and stylish. I want my feet firmly planted on the ground. I don’t want anything binding or pinching me.
I live by the mantra “secondhand first” so the first thing I did was return to the thrift stores in search of a vintage suit. I got lucky and found a decent basic black suit from the ’90s with the tags still attached. The suit is at the cleaners now. I am having the pants hemmed short.
I’ll wear my black suit with oxfords or loafers. I’m eyeing these Bass loafers with crepe soles. I like wearing a loafer with no socks. One less thing to think about.
In addition to my basic black suit, I’d also like a statement suit. Something that is almost too loud for me. Something that forces me to be present. I like seeing creative women strut their stuff in a statement suit.
It’s not like me to buy something new but drastic times call for drastic measures. I bought this gingham suit [below] from Banana Republic. I hope it fits! Instead of wearing orange-red high heels like the blogger [below], I’ll wear orange-red lipstick for a pop of color.
UPDATE: I got the Banana Republic gingham suit in the mail. It is awesome. If you like the look you should check it out. The fit was off for me and so I did return it. If I was in a store I would have tried the next size down (in the jacket). The pants fit me but are mid-rise which just makes me feel like I want to pull up my pants all the time. I have a longish torso so when I wear pants like this my blouse always is coming free and I have to keep tucking it back in. I’d rather just get higher waisted pants. I tweeted Everlane a while back. I bought a pair of pants from them that I really like. I’d love a suit jacket to go with them. In the meantime, I’ll wear my secondhand suit and cross my fingers that Everlane comes out with a blazer for women.